Can Water Damaged Clothing Be Saved?

Of course it is no secret that water can be the single most destructive force that can affect your home, and we have already looked at how it can impact your flooring, rugs, drywall, and other elements.  But what happens when your wardrobe is flooded out and you’re left without a thing to wear?  Can you salvage the situation or is it time to break out the credit card and hit the mall?

Water damaged clothes photo

Water damaged clothing

As with most cases of water damage, the ability to save your clothing items depends largely on how badly they were affected, the type of water, and the length of time they’ve been wet.  However, most people tend to focus on other areas of water damage, and rightfully so.  As a result, clothing often gets overlooked until it is too late to salvage.

Some people choose to store their water damaged clothing in garbage bags or other containment units for days on end.  This is ill advised as it may speed up the growth of mold and mildew which can permanently damage the items.

If possible, empty your clothes closet and examine each item individually.  Separate your clothing into three piles: darks, colors and whites. Determine the damage to each piece and ask yourself if it is worth saving.  If not, throw it out.  Once you end up spending more to save an article of clothing than it would to replace it, it becomes an exercise in futility. 

Water damaged clothing and insurance coverage

If you are filing a claim with your insurance company then it’s be a good idea to ask them for their water damage textile cleaning company of choice and have them pick up your items and take care of them themselves. They will document each piece of clothing and take them to their plant for cleaning and decontamination. Typically they are able to rush a few items for you so you have clean clothes to wear the next day, but this is a lot more expensive than their regular service. These textile cleaning companies specialize in textile cleaning and are not regular dry cleaning companies. They use state of the art methods to clean your clothes including liquid carbon dioxide dry cleaning methods which can be better suited to some items compared to traditional solvent-based processes.

If clothes are seriously soiled or muddy and you are taking care of them yourself, then use a hose to remove as much of the mud as possible before making any attempt to wash.   You should also clean and disinfect any surface that comes in contact with water damaged clothing. Laundry sanitizers can be added if manufacturer directions allow for them, this will reduce odor and microorganisms. As an alternative to chlorine bleach you can use sodium percarbonate or sodium perborate – both of these can produce similar results.

Water damaged garment cleaning

Water damaged garment cleaning

You’ll need to dry out each piece, then machine wash and dry them in order to restore them to their original state.  Wash on the hottest setting allowed as per the manufacturers recommendations in order to rid the clothing articles of any contaminants.

After washing, inspect for any leftover stains.  If they are apparent, don’t dry them, as that will set them in permanently.  Instead, soak them overnight in a bleach solution then run them through the wash cycle again.

When it comes to drying, again, dry on the hottest setting available.  White clothes can be hung out to dry as ultraviolet rays from the sun will help kill any remaining bacteria. 

Of course, your washer should not be used at all if it was damaged or affected by flood waters.  If this is the case, have the unit inspected by a qualified technician before any further use.

It should go without saying, but clothing that has been soaked by sewage based flooding should simply be thrown out.  I’m not sure why anybody would have to be told this, but moving right along…..sewage contaminants are serious business, bringing with them major health threats and other issues.  Save yourself the stress and wasted effort and just throw the articles out.  Treat yourself to a new wardrobe.

As always, water damage restoration is best left to the professionals.  Your local Clean Trust certified restoration company is available 24/7 to take care of even the largest problems.  All work is 100% guaranteed, and same day service is available in most cases.  Call today for an estimate.

Water damage Austin and Water damage Waco are both PuroClean businesses that are amazing water damage companies and both locations have access to textile cleaning companies that specialize in water damaged and mold damaged garment cleaning. Call today.

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Preventing Sewage Water Damage

It goes without saying that of all the different types of water damage that can affect your home, sewage water damage is far and away the worst.  Without getting graphic, sewage contains various and sundry contaminants that can cause serious discomfort and illness if exposed to or consumed by humans or animals.  It therefore becomes vitally important to properly maintain your home sewer systems and make sure that they don’t have the chance to get clogged and backed up.

Sewage water damage prevention

Sewer lines have a number of sources, not just your toilet, but also tub drainage lines, garbage disposal lines, shower, and laundry waste lines.  Not to mention storm drains or other avenues that empty into your sewer system.

Sewage cleanout photo

Sewage line cleanout preventing sewage water damage

Sometimes mud or yard waste gets into sewer lines, and tree roots may even penetrate the sewage system.  Homeowners may also tend to try and flush items such as feminine hygiene products, or kitchen paper towels down the toilet (I’ll give you a piece of advice….they won’t go down).  Likewise for your garbage disposal, not everything is meant to be run through it. Don’t empty cooking oil down your garbage disposal – rather empty it into a jar and throw the jar out.

Garbage disposals are easy enough; always run water before, during, and after placing any material in the unit, and make sure food items are properly chopped up into smaller pieces.  This will prevent the unit from getting stopped up.  Avoid trying to run anything fibrous through the disposal such as banana peels, onion skins, corn husks and cobs, or celery.  You may also want to run ice through the unit to keep blades clean to prevent clogging.  If you have something a bit fatty, dilute it with a bit of dishwasher detergent and it will go down a bit easier. For getting rid of that garbage smell that builds up over time, try dropping a lemon down there once in a while to freshen it up a bit.

Believe it or not, sanitary sewer lines are designed to only accept toilet paper and human waste.  Anything else runs the risk of causing blockages, backup, and overflow.  Do not flush the following items down your sewer line: feminine sanitary products; dental floss; Q-Tips; prophylactics; Handi-Wipes; Baby Wipes; diapers; dead goldfish (or other small deceased pets); paper towels; facial tissue.

Storm drains can bring with them an incredible amount of debris, which can block up sewer lines and cause serious backflow and flooding.  Standpipes or backwater valves may be installed to cut down on the level of flooding, but depending on the level of the water, it may not be wholly preventable.

Of course, mentioning those devices…proper maintenance should be carried out on a regular basis to keep these units functioning at peak efficiency.

As always, taking proper action beforehand prevents problems from occurring later.  Establishing a preventative maintenance schedule is highly recommended.  Rodding is the most commonly used method for clearing clogged lines, involving the use of a rodding machine, cable, and cutting head.  The cutting head is attached to the end of the cable that is then lowered into the affected line. The idea is to cut through any blockages that may be developing and thus prevent sewage water damage

For individuals unfamiliar with this problem, the “side sewer” leading from the residence to the primary city sewer line at street level is the burden of the owner of the residence. Homeowners must have their pipes snaked or de-rooted by sewer line cleaning companies or plumbers annually. Chemical remedies can assist in keeping lines clear of tree roots amid visits.

Copper sulfate is easily available and considered ideal for clearing a line of roots, however it can harm or ruin the tree. Copper sulfate is know to be harmful to fish. You’ll find limitations on its utilization through specific times of the season (for concern about it getting into bodies of water specifically in flooding situations). You will find a few alternate options that consist of dichlobenil (Casoron) as well as enzymes. RootX is offered primarily to experts; however, Foaming Root Killer is widely accessible to the general public.

Because roots tend to be the greatest trouble for side sewers, you will need to know where your sewer line is, to organize gardens accordingly and also to eliminate problem plants if it persistently causes problems.

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Remember, that water damage mitigation doesn’t have to be something that happens after the disaster has occurred.  By simply adopting some common sense habits, coupled with an effective preventive maintenance schedule, you should be able to keep your sewers functioning at peak efficiency and the sewage where it belongs…..underground and out of your house.

Call your local Clean Trust provider for all of your water damage problems and questions.  We offer same day service in most cases and all work is guaranteed.

Click on the following link for more information on sewage damage and categories of water damage

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Shop Vac for Water Damage

For smaller water damage spills, you don’t always need heavy duty pumps or industrial strength machinery.  Sometimes minor spills can be picked up through the use of a wet / dry vacuum unit, more commonly known as a shop vac.

Water damage shop vacuum image

Shop vacs can help with water damage issues

Shop vacs are considerably more powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner, able to clean up virtually any mess or spill.  Take the time to read the owner’s manual before engaging the unit, in order to become better educated on the various functions and abilities that the shop vac offers.

At the risk of insulting somebody’s intelligence, under no circumstance should you try to use a regular vacuum cleaner to remove water.  All you will end up doing is purchasing a new vacuum cleaner and could even end up electrocuting yourself or at least getting a good shock.  Trust me on this one.

Of course you should make sure that the proper filter is installed, designed for use around water damage, and that you have properly set the unit to the “wet option”.  You’ll also want to take the time to empty the room of any obstacles, furniture, or other loose items, as well as getting things like curtains out of the way.  Some of the larger shop vacs will suck up anything, and you don’t want to see something inadvertently damaged through the use of the unit.

Remember that shop vac units are electric, and will need to be plugged into the wall.  Their cords aren’t usually very long, so you may have to use a drop cord to get the necessary length.  Needless to say, water and electricity do not mix, so you want to take care to keep the cord away from and out of any water you may be working around.  The only part of the unit that should touch the water is the suction hose.

Water removal with shop vac

Remove excess water from small spills with a shop vac

You can move the hose across the affected area, much the same way you would vacuum a floor.  You will be able to hear water being pulled up and into the unit.  Continue to work the affected area until you no longer hear water coming through the unit, and even then, give it a few more sweeps just for good measure.  Keep in mind that the unit may fill to capacity before you are done.  Most models are equipped to shut off automatically when the tank is full.

Once the unit is full, power it down and roll up the cord.  Roll the unit to the nearest sink or toilet, and remove the lid. Pour the contents into the drain, or you can drain it outside if there is no danger of the water leaking back into your home.  Remember that the tank can become heavy and awkward to work with as it fills up. When you purchase a shop vac you should go for one of the largest units available to cut down on the number of trips required while taking into account the fact that you may need to lift it up while it’s full of water.

Once the water has been removed, clean the unit inside and out and dry it properly to prevent bacteria or mold from developing. Stow all components properly and replace the filter. 

Also, remember that once the water has been vacuumed up, your job is not complete.  Just a touch to the affected surfaces will reveal that it is still wet.  You will need to move on to the second step in the process, which involves high velocity fans, dehumidifiers, blowers, and other devices designed to circulate air and facilitate drying.

If the spill is of significant size, a shop vac would take far too long to be effective and a professional grade extraction unit will be required. Call your local Clean Trust certified water damage professionals. Here at PuroClean we use weighted extraction units that our technicians ride on which compress carpet and pad and remove up to 95% of the water from the carpet, pad and sub floor. That’s a huge step in the right direction and can cut down on the amount of drying time required.

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Determining your Potential Water Damage Threat

I have long maintained that, when it comes to water damage, the best defense is a great offense.  That means going the extra mile to protect your home, business, and possessions from any sort of water intrusion.  The best time to do this of course is right now, while everything is still dry.  Take the time needed to look through your property and discover potential risks.

Floodplains and water damage

Even higher lying buildings can be flooded

If your home is located on or near a flood plain or zone, you should visit your local emergency management office and ask for information on previous flood events.  This data will give you a pretty good idea of how much water you may have to deal with if and when it happens again.  Armed with this information, you can then move valuable items in your home to a location above the projected water line or make a plan to move valuables out in case of a flood. Make sure you shut off basic utilities such as water, electricity and the gas supply. Important documents like your passport, contracts and official documents should be stored in a safe, dry place with easy access. The need for effective risk prevention must always come first.

You should also perform a yearly inspection of your plumbing and piping to make sure nothing is broken or leaking.  Remember, even the slightest leak can become a major problem if left alone long enough.  Pay close attention to your water bill; if you see a sudden increase in your monthly charges, that is usually a dead giveaway that something is wrong somewhere.  You should also insulate pipes in the attic or basement to avoid freezing.

Likewise broken door and window seals can cause condensation to develop on your windows and walls.  Condensation equals a problem – every time.  If you find condensation, take the appropriate steps to correct the problem. Homeowners usually ignore condensation issues because they seem minor, but it’s the fact that they’re ignored that causes them to create so much damage. Slow leaks that aren’t taken care of for months will result in mold growth. Take care of the small issues as soon as they’re noticed.

Photo of broken water heater

Leaking water heaters can cause serious damage

Speaking from experience, water heaters can put out a lot of water very quickly when they suddenly decide to go bad (which is usually the day after the warranty expires, or so it seems).  Have the anode rod inspected every year or so, and replace the rod at the first sign of corrosion to avoid damage.  To avoid sediment building up in the tank, have it flushed every six months.  These simple actions will ward off flood damage and get the maximum life out of your water heater.

Many homes with basements have sump pumps installed to prevent flooding, but these only work if they are properly maintained.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, whether it is running the unit every two months or making sure it is properly cleaned up before the start of the rainy season.

To properly inspect the pump, open the lid and remove any debris blocking the inlet screen.  Pour approximately five gallons of water into the pump and make sure the float valve rises.  If the unit is functioning properly, it should turn on automatically and discharge the water through the outlet pipe.  At this point, you want to inspect the outlet pipe.  Go outside and make sure it is properly channeling the water away from your home.  If the pump fails to operate correctly at any point in the process, contact a professional to come and service the unit.  Remember, these pumps are your best line of defense against water damage in your basement or other low lying areas of your home.

You should also make sure your toilet remains in good working order.  While we don’t enjoy talking toilets, the fact is that not much can do water damage like a malfunctioning toilet.  Couple that with the very real possibility of having a water spill combined with sewage contaminants makes proper toilet function imperative.

As always, your local Clean Trust certified water damage restoration professional can handle any of your water damage needs, no matter the size (or depth, or intensity, or situation).  Call 866-722-7876 today for a free estimate.

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Preventing Kitchen Water Damage

Of course it is a given that water damage can occur anywhere, and at any time, but it is also a given that certain rooms in your home may be more prone to damage than others.  These would include your bathroom, washer/dryer room, and your kitchen.

water damage to your kitchen

Kitchen water damage can be prevented

The reasons are obvious; all of these rooms make use of both incoming and outgoing water pipes, either one of which may cause problems if they malfunction in any way.  The humidity level may also be noticeably higher in these rooms, which provides the perfect staging area for mold and mildew.  For our purposes today, we will concentrate on the kitchen.

In any case of water damage, the best defense is always a good offense, and there are steps you can take to cut down on the damage that water can inflict on your kitchen. 

Firstly, check for signs of moisture under your refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink.  Obviously the sink will be the easiest to check, but take the time to move and inspect the areas under and around the other appliances.  The sink is most likely to suffer from water damage, as it is utilized and exposed to running water several times each day.  Feel around pipes, hoses, and connections for any sign of moisture.  Even a small amount should be a warning sign. 

Even if the pipes are dry, you should look for evidence of water leaking in the immediate vicinity.  Water stains on the wood are very obvious and a dead giveaway.  You should then run water through the pipes to see if you can determine exactly where the leak is originating.

Any connecting hoses should be replaced every couple of years or so to prevent them from getting brittle and subsequently springing leaks. 

Remember to check the filter in your dishwasher from time to time.  Didn’t know your dishwasher had a filter?  That’s okay, it slips by most people, and you are aware of it now, so….  The filter can become clogged and backed up over time.  Once it begins to show signs of age, replace it.  This will not only prevent damage to the flooring beneath, but it will keep your dishwasher performing at peak efficiency.

Perform the same inspection on your refrigerator.  Most people don’t suspect that their fridge might be a source for water damage, but they do have water lines running in and out of them (assuming you’ve joined the new millennium and have a fridge that makes ice and dispenses water).  Even if they don’t, the temps generated by refrigerators and freezers can result in condensation around and under the unit.  If not properly treated, this can grow into a more severe problem.

You may also want to consider replacing the factory standard hoses on all kitchen appliances with steel braided hoses.  These last longer and are much more resistant to wear and tear and the leaks that generally accompany them. Some people don’t realize how bad their hoses are until they break. The rubber hoses normally used to carry water to your kitchen appliances wear out form the inside. The outside always looks pristine, but the inside is wearing pretty thin and it’s a ticking time bomb that’s about to go off in your home.

You should also inspect and maintain the exhaust fans in your kitchen, as they are one of the primary methods by which humidity levels are maintained.  If they get clogged up or malfunction, it can raise the level of humidity in your kitchen, as well as provide a dark, secluded place for mold to get a foothold.

Check your drains every now and then and keep them unclogged and free of debris.  Not only will your kitchen smell better, but it will keep mildew and mold from gaining a foothold.

Of course for any water damage problems, contact your local Clean Trust certified water restoration professional.

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